Lawmaker says top issue for constituents is marijuana; oncologist advocates for safe access

02/12/2017 12:39 PM

Far and away the largest number of phone calls from constituents of Rep. Jason Nemes, R-Louisville, are in support of marijuana legalization, and he says he’s heard plenty of other lawmakers also getting the calls.

Nemes recently published online what voters are calling him about, and in a phone interview with Pure Politics he said the calls on marijuana come in three forms: advocating for medical marijuana in pill form, medical marijuana that can be smoked and full-scale state legalization of the federally illegal drug.

“I’m getting contacted on all three of those areas, I don’t know where I am on it, but the Kentucky Medical Association tells me there’s no studies that show that it’s effective,” Nemes said in a phone interview on Wednesday.

Dr. Don Stacy, a board certified radiation oncologist who works in the Kentucky and Indiana areas, said there’s a reason there’s no studies proving effectiveness — studies have not been allowed to take place.

“It’s one of those things where we can’t provide randomized phase three studies in cannabis without making it legal — that is the gold standard for any sort of medicine,” Stacy said. “We have a variety of studies of that nature from other countries of course, but American physicians are very particular about American data. The database we have now is plenty enough to say we shouldn’t be arresting patients for trying to help themselves.”

Stacy said he became interested in marijuana after he noticed some of his patients were doing better with treatment than similar patients. In reviewing their records and through private discussions with the patients, he learned “a significant portion” of those doing better were the patients using marijuana.

“I was surprised by that,” he said. “I’ve always been a skeptic of alternative medicines, but then I began to research the data. I was impressed with the data.”

Dr. Stacy said he’s had some particular patients who showed minor or moderate improvements or side effects, but patients who had to stop treatment because the toxicity of the treatment was so severe. The patients who had to stop treatment tried marijuana, and then they were able to complete their treatments showing “dramatic differences,” Stacy said.

Because of the improvements in patients, Stacy is advocating for safe and legal access to the drug.

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia allow access to medical marijuana in different forms. Through those states allowing access, Stacy said several show improvements outside of overall medical care.

In states that have legalized medical marijuana the suicide rate has dropped by 10 percent among males 18 to 40, he said.

“It says when people have serious medical or behavioral issues — if you cannot find the treatment that helps you then some people decide to end their lives, and cannabis apparently prevents a certain portion of people from doing that.”

Stacy said that there is also a 10 percent decrease in physicians prescribing narcotics in medical marijuana states. The effect of that, Stacy said is a 25 percent decrease in overdose deaths linked to narcotics in states with medical cannabis laws. With the level of heroin and opiate abuse in Kentucky, he said there would be positive effects seen here too.

“I think that one-quarter of the people who will overdose and die of narcotics in this state in this year would be alive if we had a medical cannabis law.”

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Kentucky Bill Would Legalize Medical Marijuana, Take Step to Nullify Federal Prohibition

FRANKFORT, Ky. (Dec. 13, 2016) – A Kentucky Senate bill slated for introduction in 2017 would legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients in the state, effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.

Pre-filed by Sen. Perry B. Clark (D-Louisville), BR409 would “protect patients with debilitating medical conditions, as well as their practitioners and providers, from arrest and prosecution, criminal and other penalties, and property forfeiture, if such patients engage in the medical use of cannabis.” The bill will be considered by the Kentucky State Senate during the 2017 legislative session.

Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one of the following ailments listed in BR409:

A terminal illness, peripheral neuropathy, anorexia, cancer, glaucoma, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, hepatitis C, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, substance use disorder, mood disorder, Alzheimer’s disease, lupus, muscular dystrophy, post-traumatic stress disorder, diabetes, sleep disorder, fibromyalgia, autism, ulcerative colitis, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injury, Tourette syndrome, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or the treatment of these conditions

Medical marijuana patients would be allowed to designate a caregiver under BR409, which would permit another individual the legal authority to grow the plant on behalf of the qualifying patient. Dispensaries, called “compassion centers” in BR409, would be permitted to operate as well provided that they comply with the tax and regulatory structure established under the legislation.

“Most of my life we have expended tax dollars pursuing a ban on a plant,” Sen. Clark said in a WKYT news report from earlier this year. “Wasted dollars, they were. We have exponentially increased the power and scope of our criminal justice system by strapping it with issues concerning a plant.”

Despite the federal prohibition on marijuana, measures such as SB409 remain perfectly constitutional, and the feds can do little if anything to stop them in practice.

LEGALITY

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits all of this behavior. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of medical marijuana in Kentucky would remove a huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana, but federal prohibition will remain on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By curtailing state prohibition, Kentucky sweeps away much of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests.

Furthermore, figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly annual budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution either. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.

A GROWING MOVEMENT

With passage of SB409, Kentucky would join a growing number of states simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have already legalized recreational cannabis. California, Nevada, Maine, and Massachusetts are set to join them after voters approved ballot initiatives in favor of legalization last November.

With more than two-dozen states allowing cannabis for medical use as well, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

“The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

WHAT’S NEXT?

BR409 will need to be formally introduced and pass its committee assignments before it can be considered by the full Senate. Stay in touch with our Tenther Blog and our Tracking and Action Center for the latest updates.

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Kentucky cancer cases may be ‘cluster’, Researcher finds excessive rates in Jefferson County

Monday, September 8, 2003

The Associated Press

LOUISVILLE – A University of Louisville researcher says he’s identified an excessive number of cases of lung cancer in western and southern Jefferson County.

Looking at reported cases of cancer, ZIP code by ZIP code, epidemiologist and associate professor Timothy Aldrich attributed the large majority to tobacco smoke, but said it’s not clear on what role environmental and occupational contaminants play.

“The Jefferson County piece is our local version of a much larger picture,” said Aldrich, of the university’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences. “The state has enormously high lung cancer rates.”

In his draft study, done at the request of the Courier-Journal newspaper, Aldrich reported what he said were excessive rates and “evidence of clustering” for bladder and cervical cancers and leukemia in various locations around Jefferson County. The study also identified 16 ZIP codes with high breast cancer rates, but Aldrich said he found no apparent pattern to their occurrence.

Aldrich’s study is the first to address some of the health questions raised by Louisville-area air monitoring that has found numerous chemicals or compounds at levels federal, state and local environmental regulators consider unsafe. It follows one published in 1997 by the Louisville and Jefferson County Board of Health that found no clusters but identified the highest cancer death rates in western and southwestern Jefferson County, attributing them largely to lack of early diagnosis and treatment.

Aldrich said he found that it’s likely the public doesn’t have to worry about the environment as a cause of three categories of cancer sometimes associated with chemical pollutants: pediatric cancers, brain cancer and liver cancers. In all three, he said, he found no evidence of excessive rates or clustering.

But Aldrich said he cannot rule out that hazardous air pollutants might explain some of the excess lung, bladder and leukemia cancers in certain ZIP codes and may cause or contribute to other illnesses he did not study.

Other medical experts have also said smoking and poor air quality could combine to produce more lung cancers.

“The environment (as a cause of cancer) is not immaterial, but you have to keep it in perspective,” Aldrich said. “I don’t want to tell people it isn’t important – it’s important.”

To answer the question of how important it is, he and several other researchers at UofL have begun a two-year research project to determine what part, if any, environmental or occupational contaminants play in Louisville’s lung cancers.

Aldrich and other Louisville medical experts said lifestyle factors such as diet, smoking and alcohol consumption, along with genetics, play the dominant role in determining whether someone gets cancer, and prevention measures should continue to focus on lifestyle factors.

“All of these factors come together in very complicated ways, in addition to air quality,” said Dr. Donald Miller, director of the James Graham Brown Cancer Center at the University of Louisville. “Clearly if you are looking at cancer prevention targets, smoking is at the head of the list.”

Air pollution “is a big problem,” said Dr. Wayne Tuckson, a colorectal surgeon who worked on the 1997 cancer study. “But it’s just another one of the problems.”

Aldrich is scheduled to discuss his research at a meeting Thursday of the Rubbertown Community Advisory Council that will include several presentations from university experts.

The Louisville Metro Health Department is studying Aldrich’s findings, and Metro Mayor Jerry Abramson and metro government’s Air Pollution Control District have promised to take residents’ air pollution concerns seriously.

Art Williams, director of the air district, said the agency will continue its efforts to curb hazardous air pollutants.

“We will move as aggressively as we can to reduce air toxics to safe levels,” Williams said.


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Related:

New lung is only potential cure

The dual neuroprotective–neurotoxic profile of cannabinoid drugs

British Journal of Pharmacology – Library of Cannabis Information

 

 

October 7, 2003

United States Patent
6,630,507

Hampson ,   et al.
October 7, 2003


Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants

Abstract

Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3. ##STR1##

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Extensive in vitro and in vivo studies have shown that cannabinoid drugs have neuroprotective properties and suggested that the endocannabinoid system may be involved in endogenous neuroprotective mechanisms.